What Does Saudi Prince Expect To Gain From Extravagant “Gift”

[SEE: Richest Saudi says he will donate entire $39B fortune — including all his spare cash — to charity]

Doubts shed on genuineness of Saudi prince’s philanthropy

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Former employees of ‘dwarf-tossing’ Saudi billionaire prince allege that he uses philanthropy to become richer

Jurgen Balzan

The Saudi prince who was last week awarded a Republic Day honour for his intention to carry out charity work in Malta is described as an “eccentric” man with ambitions to replace his ailing uncle who rules over the oil rich and repressive kingdom.

Although the majority of people who over the years have been awarded Republic Day medals fully deserve the honour, a number of recent choices have raised suspicion and given an impression that the awards have been turned into a commodity.

Last year, the best-selling author of Is-Sriep Regghu Saru Velenuzi Alev Vella Gera turned down a Republic Day honour, claiming that he couldn’t accept an award from a political class which “apart from some exception, has been causing so much damage to my country.”

He had also underlined what he termed as clear contradictions in awarding an honour to the Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Valentina Ivanovna Matvienko who supports Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay campaign while also honouring transsexual Joanne Cassar.

“I feel I’ve made the right choice not to involve myself in this farce, where someone who is given a national honour becomes a pawn in the insidiousness of the Maltese political game,” Vella Gera had said.

Moreover, in the past Malta honoured foreign dictators such as Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and Muammar Gaddafi. The Korean leader was given an honorary award in 1985, while Gaddafi was awarded honorary membership of the Xirka Gieħ ir-Reppublika in 1975 and became a member of the National Order of Merit in 2004.

This year it was the turn of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal who portrays himself as a global philanthropist and is considered to be the richest man in Saudi Arabia and one of the richest people in the world.

On Saturday he was made Honorary Companion of the National Order of Merit for charity work he is planning in Malta and his long-standing interest in Malta.

But in an article published by Business Insider in 2012, former employees alleged that the Prince’s charity work is more for appearance, and eventual profit, than for altruistic reasons.

“He’s a huge philanthropist, but it’s all for the press,” one of Alwaleed’s former employees said, adding “I was there over five years. I went to every African country. Cash was given out in millions of dollars. They would go for a meeting and we would give a bag man millions of dollars of cash. And then we’d return two or three years later and guess what, we’re going to build a hotel there. Anything [Alwaleed] does worldwide is for a reason.”

The report explained that in 2003 Alwaleed’s foundation donated some $ 1 million to Ghanaian charities including an early child development center, an education fund, a children’s preschool program, and a clinic to study AIDS, malaria, and malnutrition.

Three years later Ghana awarded Alwaleed a “Companion of the Order of the Volta” medal. Then, in 2011, Alwaleed opened a $120 million hotel in Accra, Ghana.

Charged with rape

The US-educated prince, worth around $30 million, has been embroiled in a number of scandals, including charges of raping a 20-year-old model in Spain.

In 2008, the prince was accused of drugging and raping a Spanish-German woman Soraya in Ibiza, Spain on board his luxury yacht Turama.

He denied the charge, saying he was not even in Spain at the time and refused to attend court or provide demanded DNA related evidence.

In 2012,the Spanish court dropped the case over “contradictions and vagueness” in evidence from the alleged victim.

In a separate case, the prince was sued by Daad Sharab, a Jordanian businesswoman who said she was not paid any commission for brokering the sale of a jet to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

In a humiliating legal defeat, Alwaleed was ordered by a British court to pay the $10-million commission and the Judge described his evidence as “confusing, unreliable, hopeless and pathetic.”

Moreover, last year the prince sued Forbes magazine for libel in a British court, alleging its valuation of his wealth at $20 billion was short of the mark by $9.6 billion.

Through his Kingdom Holding Company, Alwaleed owns large stakes in the vacillating Citigroup, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Twitter and Apple among other companies. He is also owner or part-owner of luxury hotels including the Plaza in New York, the Savoy in London and the George V in Paris.

Dwarf-throwing billionaire

Beyond his shrinking fortune, various reports in the foreign press say that Alwaleed has set his eyes on the Saudi throne currently occupied by his 90-year-old uncle King Abdullah.

But Alwaleed penchant for luxury has led him to have a personal throne on one of his private jets, a Beoing 747 on which the Prince flew in to Malta.

But his bizarreness doesn’t end there. Speaking to Business Insider, Alwaleed’s official spokesperson confirmed that like a medieval ruler, Alwaleed keeps in his entourage a group of dancing, laughing, joking dwarfs.

Reportedly, at one of the parties Alwaleed habitually holds in the desert, he tossed $100 bills into a fire, encouraging the dwarfs or “jesters”, to run into the bonfire and pull the money out.

The Business Insider also reported “one source, who left Alwaleed’s employ with a letter of recommendation from the Prince, says that at least once, Alwaleed set up a “midget-tossing” contest, promising money to whomever could throw the little people the farthest. There were pillows. “

Alwaleed denied the stories and his supporters claimed that dwarfs are outcasts in Saudi Arabia and the benevolent prince hires them to take them off the streets.

The prince also takes pride in the fact that nearly 65% of the staff at his palace and his investment company, Kingdom Holding, are women. The prince also hired a female pilot to fly his jets in a country were women aren’t allowed to drive cars.

However, he’s been accused of doing it for publicity and reportedly the prince told his aviation staff that female pilot Hanadi Zakariya Hindi would never fly his aircraft.

Ban Calls For End To Hostilities In Yemen

UN NEWS CENTER

Ban calls for end to hostilities

Yemen unfolding humanitarian “catastrophe”

Smoke fills the sky above the Yemeni capital Sana’a after a series of airstrikes (12 May). Photo: Almigdad Mojalli/IRIN

2 July 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeated yesterday his call for an immediate end to the fighting in Yemen to help stem the unfolding humanitarian “catastrophe” in the country.

“He calls on the parties to agree, at the very minimum, on an immediate pause in hostilities until the end of the holy month of Ramadan, so that humanitarian aid can be delivered into and across Yemen and reach people cut off from vital supplies for months,” says a statement issued by the UN Spokesperson.

The UN chief emphasized that the parties to the conflict must adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, protecting civilians and enabling humanitarian workers to deliver life-saving assistance.

Without access to all parts of the country, children, women and men will continue to die for lack of food, clean water and healthcare.

“The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations, as expressed through the efforts of his Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, to support Yemen in the search for a political solution — the only viable solution — to the conflict.”

In the past three months, some 3,000 Yemenis have been killed, half of them civilians, and 14,000 injured. Over a million people have had to flee their homes and 21 million need immediate help, close to 13 million people are unable to meet their food needs, 15 million people have no healthcare and outbreaks of dengue and malaria are raging unchecked.

Humanitarian partners have reached 4.4 million people with aid in the past three months, but this is a fraction of those in need, says the UN Spokesperson. The United Nations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and international NGOs working together have now activated the highest level of emergency response.

“But without access to all parts of the country, children, women and men will continue to die for lack of food, clean water and healthcare,” warns the statement.

Medvedev Says Moscow Agrees To Give Gas Discount To Ukraine

EU-Russia-Ukraine Gas Talks: Moscow Ready to Make Concessions

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Russia, Ukraine and the European Union on Tuesday (30 June) wrapped up trilateral talks in Vienna after a series of meetings between the European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, Naftofaz CEO, Andriy Kobolev, Russian Energy Minister, Aleksander Novak, and Ukrainian Energy Minister, Vladimir Demchyshyn had been held.

The objective of the negotiations was to try to come up with an agreement complementing the current Winter Package, which ended in March and was partially extended to June. The European Union, which acts as a mediator, has been working with Moscow and Kiev on a draft protocol after a number of meetings at expert level seeking to find a compromise between both sides. Mr. Sefcovic commented that yesterday’s talks had again demonstrated that all parties “agree on the principles needed to ensure stable and smooth gas deliveries to Ukraine and transit to the EU.” He further emphasized that “the translation of these principles into a jointly agreed final framework require further work but as the meeting has shown today, the parties are still far apart.”

In the meantime, Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told the Russian Energy Minister and Gazprom CEO that Russia was ready for concessions in the talks saying that concessions “within reason” should be made “despite all the difficulties in the current relations with Ukraine.” Mr. Medvedev’s comment came after Gazprom had said that it would charge Ukraine $287 per 1,000 cubic meters with no discount in the third quarter. However, Russian Prime Minister also hinted that Ukraine would be given a discount of $40 per 1,000 cubic meters. He moreover reminded that Russian supplies to Europe rely on Ukraine as a transit country. Around one sixth of Europe’s gas consumption comes via Ukraine. Mr. Medvedev concluded that Russia “cherishes (its) reputation as a reliable gas supplier… This (gas discount) is a serious measure to support the Ukrainian economy”.

Taking-On the Pathological Compulsion To Confront Russia

[We have been so conditioned throughout our lives to see Russians as the ultimate “Bad Guys,” that great effort is required on our parts to see past this psychological conditioning.  Some factions of our society see the taming of Russian treachery as a mission in life.  Whenever new opportunity arises which accomodates these American “holy warriors” (think John McCain or Jesse Helms), the volume of their cheerleading overwhelms our ability to think straight.  Giving free-rein to the McCains and the Lindsays of our political establishment, during eras of war fever, is a formula for catastrophe.]

Taking on Russia

By James W. Carden

An important step in the growing movement challenging the established foreign policy consensus with regard to U.S.-Russia policy has been taken with the launch of the new American Committee for East-West Accord.

As the Washington foreign policy establishment finds itself firmly in the grip of a bipartisan consensus, which seeks to fan the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine by, among other moves, agitating for weapons deliveries to Kiev, U.S.-Russian relations have sunk to their lowest point since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

The Committee hopes to impact the tenor of the debate over U.S.-Russian policy and the crisis in Ukraine by elevating the tone of the discussion from one dominated, at least in the United States, by ad hominem attacks and baseless assertions to a dialogue that centers around a civil discussion regarding the interests of the nations involved and the ethics of the means chosen to achieve those interests. This we hope will be done though open debate and civilized dialogue with those who are opposed to achieving any sort of detente or a modus vivendi with Russia.

The parties opposing any kind of rapprochement with Russia have been, and clearly remain, ascendant. From the time the crisis in Ukraine began in late 2013, leading foreign policy voices within the Obama administration including UN Ambassador Samantha Power and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, have strived to paint the crisis in simple black and white terms: the Maidan revolutionaries like Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk are the good guys and Vladimir Putin is the bad guy, and but for Putin’s often-described aggression the crisis would not have occurred on the first place.

Yet those who have repeatedly (and so-far with little success) pointed out that perhaps matters aren’t so simple, have been the target of critics who question not only their premises but their patriotism as well. Anyone who has had the temerity to question whether NATO’s relentless expansion eastward to Russia’s borders has contributed to the crisis, can look forward to being labeled a “useful idiot,” a “dupe,” or a “Kremlin apologist.” The trend towards character assassination in lieu of substantive debate has been one of the defining features of the debate over US-Russia policy in the late Obama years.

And so, one of the reasons the time is right for a new Committee is that there are increasing similarities between debates of a generation ago, particularly with regard to our opposite numbers, who, by and large, are made up of a band of neoconservative activists who during the height of the Cold War comprised the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). To give a sense of how little has changed in the ensuing decades, the CPD, anticipating much of the overheated rhetorical bombast aimed at Vladimir Putin’s government that we hear today, issued a statement in 1977 that read, in part:

“The Soviet military build-up of all its armed forces over the past quarter century is, in part, reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s rearmament in the 1930s.”

That type of rhetoric, it seems, has never gone out of fashion for neoconservatives of a certain stripe and remains one of the true stumbling blocks towards holding a civilized and enlightened dialogue which the current iteration the Committee for East-West Accord hopes to inspire.

The Committee’s founding board is made up of several eminent former public servants, businessmen and scholars whose diverse backgrounds and careers who all share a sense of alarm over what is fast developing into a new Cold War and perhaps even an armed U.S.-Russia confrontation in eastern Europe. The Board includes former Senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley, former American Ambassadors William vanden Heuvel and Jack Matlock, businessmen with long experience in Russia, such as former Procter and Gamble CEO John Pepper and the Brussels-based executive Gilbert Doctorow, as well as two eminent scholars of U.S.-Russian relations and Soviet History, Ellen Mickiewicz of Duke and Stephen F. Cohen of Princeton and NYU.

While the Committee is new, its name evokes a distinguished predecessor, the Committee on East-West Accord, which was the leading pro-detente group in the latter half of the Cold War. The old Committee on East-West Accord boasted such luminaries as the scholar, diplomat George F. Kennan, former Under Secretary of State George Ball, Pepsico Chair Donald Kendall, and our own Stephen F. Cohen.

To help achieve its goals, the Committee has launched a companion web site, EastWestAccord.com which features its Mission Statement, several initial proposals for ending the crisis, biographical information on the Founding Board and updates from our European coordinator, Gilbert Doctorow. The site also features the latest opinions and headlines on U.S.-Russia and the Ukraine crisis in the News and Analysis sections as well as a small but growing archive of Official Statements from the American and Russian governments.

We hope that the site will serve as a non-partisan resource for policymakers and citizens who are concerned about what seems to be a headlong rush into a new and potentially more dangerous new Cold War with Russia.

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James W. Carden, a Nation contributing writer, is the executive editor of EastWestAccord.com.

Western Anti-Russian Campaign Plotted Before Ukraine Coup d’etat

NATO Secretary General Jens StoltenbergNATO’s turn against Russia plotted long before Ukraine events — diplomat

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The whole NATO machine is turning to the East, in other words is going back to the sources, it’s an extremely dangerous tendency as it envisages long-term trends, Russia’s envoy to the alliance–Alexander Grushko

© EPA PHOTO BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE

MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. NATO’s return to the Cold War era security perception was planned long before the Ukrainian crisis, Russia’s envoy to the alliance, Alexander Grushko, said on Tuesday.

“Today, the whole NATO machine is in fact turning to the East, in other words is going back to the sources. This is an extremely dangerous tendency as it envisages long-term trends,” he told a video link-up between Moscow and Brussels.

“NATO links the need for such a turn to Russia’s alleged aggressive actions in Ukraine,” the diplomat said. “But NATO cannot but see what efforts are made by Russia to ensure the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.”

“However, those decisions that are taken are no way linked to the Ukrainian crisis, what is becoming another evidence that the military and political turn of NATO was devised long before the Ukrainian events,” he said.

This turn comes first of all as the “epoch of major operations is over, showing NATO’s failure to adopt to new security conditions.” In order to prove that this tool is still in demand, “the alliance has found nothing better than to return to the security perception of the Cold War time.”

US Breathing Down Lebanon’s Neck, Hoping To Stampede Them Into Mediterranean Gas Free-for-all

[The American ambassador is breathing down Lebanon’s neck, urging leaders to jump-in and stake their claims to Med. Gas profits. Never mind, whether it is necessary to draw another at this time in the Middle East line. Israel cannot “slant-drill” Lebanon’s gas until they first manage to begin their own production and marketing. Israeli populist concerns about gas monopolies overcharging for domestic gas will eventually be settled, but the bigger problems will be the cost of cleaning-up the high-pressure gas from Leviathan, and finding a third partner for Israel’s gas oligarchs, because no big oil company wants to be identified with the Zionist state.]

U.S. Envoy Urges Lebanese ‘Not to be Late’ for Energy ‘Party’

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W460

The U.S. Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs at the State Department has stressed that the solution to the exploration of Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas lied in the hands of the Lebanese.

Amos Hochstein, who is currently on an official visit to Lebanon, told An Nahar daily in remarks published on Thursday that “it was time for Lebanon to issue oil decrees and start working.”

“The solution is in your hands,” he said.

“The issue is more complicated than just drawing a line on a map,” Hochstein said about calls for the demarcation of the maritime border with Israel.

“Gas prices have dropped and opportunities in the world are growing and some countries are developing,” the U.S. envoy told An Nahar, advising the Lebanese “not to arrive late for the party.”

Sharp differences among Lebanese officials have stalled the endorsement of two oil decrees that are needed to start exploration.

The first decree tackles the demarcation of the 10 maritime oil blocks and the second is linked to setting up a revenue-sharing model and tackles the contracts signed with the international companies.

Several Lebanese officials have warned that the delay in the government’s approval of the decrees has given Israel the opportunity to siphon Lebanon’s offshore gas and oil through fields that lie only a few kilometers from the country’s territorial waters.

Hochstein met on Thursday with Speaker Nabih Berri, al-Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.

On Wednesday, he held talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian and UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano.

Al-Liwaa daily quoted the envoy as saying that the U.S. is ready to assist Lebanon in the demarcation of its maritime border.

The Lebanese officials insisted that the process should be carried out through the United Nations, informed sources told the newspaper.

HOW BLOODY SECTARIAN STATES IN THE GULF KEEP BRITAIN PROSPEROUS

HOW BLOODY SECTARIAN STATES IN THE GULF KEEP BRITAIN PROSPEROUS

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London’s Shard and the Arab World’s Sectarianism

Churchill’s Karma

During the heyday of George W.Bush’s “War on Terror”, his erstwhile ally Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair scolded the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez and the Bolivian President, Evo Morales in the aftermath of a European Union-Latin American summit.

Blair requested both Presidents behave sensibly and responsibly with their respective country’s natural resources. Obviously, Bush’s right hand man did not qualify how such ‘sensibility’ and ‘responsibility’ should manifest itself. But if we gaze across the world and look at how the Arab despots of the Persian Gulf spend their wealth we certainly can decipher what the war criminal meant by ‘sensibly’ and ‘responsibility’.

Abundantly clear to the naked eye, is that what Blair demanded from the Latin Americans, is that their wealth should be jubilantly showered on the British economy.

There hardly isn’t any aspect of the British economy which hasn’t been supported (or “invested in” as the British media likes to delusionally boast) by the Gulf statelets. These statelets have shown themselves to be, in effect, nothing but British demarcated oil wells designed to give the British economy priority over the regions hinterland populations.

Great Britain’s leading arms exporter, British Aerospace is totally dependent on the weapons sold to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE), etc. There very likely would not be a globally renowned, successful British arms industry if it wasn’t for these statelets. I’ve written specifically about this here and discussed other parts of the British economy propped up by the Gulf dictators here.

The latest act of most outrageous ‘sensibly’ and ‘responsibly’ in spending the oil wealth, is that leader of the UAE is building a personal six-story car park in London for his collection of over 110 lucrative private cars to the tune £20 million. While millions around the world are starving to death, what better way for a British lackey to spend the wealth of the region than to build a car park in his master’s capital?

More so, the British economy has been propped up in recent years by these artificial states in the Persian Gulf created by British imperialism, while the mainland of the Arab World sinks deeper into sectarian war funded and tele-visually fanned by these same states. There has always been an outrageous and blood soaked international dimension and backbone to British prosperity. Back in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries it was the transatlantic trade in millions of captured Africans as labour for North American/Caribbean (sugar, tobacco and cotton) plantations and British imperialist rule over India which allowed Great Britain to be the most powerful imperial power on earth.

William Gladstone, the much vaunted great Liberal politician of the nineteenth century, began his career in the British parliament, knee and neck deep in the blood of his father’s slave plantations in Jamaica. Yet we hear next to nothing of this when Great Britain’s famous historians marvel and recount on how great and sublime the British Empire was. Such moral obliviousness never escaped George Orwell. Writing on British prosperity in the late 1930’s he had this to say:

“What we always forget is that the over­whelming bulk of the British proletariat does not live in Britain, but in Asia and Africa. It is not in Hitler’s power, for instance, to make a penny an hour a normal industrial wage; it is perfectly normal in India, and we are at great pains to keep it so. One gets some idea of the real relationship of England and India when one reflects that the per capita annual income in England is something over £80, and in India about £7…This is the system which we all live on…”

Returning to the contemporary world, British political commentators would never mention how Great Britain’s continued prosperity is more or less dependent (or “the system which we live on”) on the bogus statelets created by British imperialism in the Persian Gulf. The barbaric sectarianism running rampant in the Arab World today is the flip-side, of say, the tallest building in Western Europe and London’s latest iconic landmark, the Qatari financed ‘The Shard’ or a Gulf Sheikh’s car park in London.

With one hand the Arab despots of the Persian Gulf fan sectarianism in the Arab mainland and beyond, and with the other they are left free to “invest” in the British economy. The Shard can be seen as symbolising the twisted and essential link between jihadist sectarianism of the Arab World and the British economy.